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Students offer advice for on-campus quarantine, isolation after testing positive for COVID-19

The Residential Green sits vacant April 2019 after the Spring semester’s abrupt shift to virtual courses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students living on campus Fall 2020 were required to test negatively before moving in. Those who tested positive were provided isolation space in Carleson Hall. (Photo file: Shaylie Johnson)

Before moving into Westminster College dorms, all residential students were required to test negative for the coronavirus. For those who were positive, the college designated Carleson Hall as an isolation dorm.

As of Sept. 4, Westminster reports eight positive COVID-19 cases among students and two among employees.

Riley Hayes, a junior double majoring in communication and outdoor education and leadership, identified herself to The Forum as one of the student cases. 

Although she had no symptoms, Hayes chose to be tested ahead of leaving for her field semester as a precaution. After testing positive Aug. 20, Hayes said she was led up to the isolation dorms in Carleson by Student Health Services. 

“Basically I was, in a friendly way, escorted up to the third floor of Carleson,” Hayes said.

Hayes stayed there for 10 days, being released from isolation Aug. 30.

Because she is a commuter student, Hayes said she was given the option of quarantining on campus or her home. However, she chose to stay on campus. 

Upon entering isolation, Hayes said she was given a box of necessities until her things could be brought to her. The dorm building was empty, except for one other student staying in isolation at the same time. 

Because of the vacancies, Hayes said she could choose any room to stay in. 

While isolating and waiting to meet up with the rest of her field semester class, Hayes said she made the most of her unexpected situation.

“Creativity is probably the most necessary skill in here,” Hayes told The Forum while still in isolation. 

Hayes said she used creativity to entertain herself with homemade games — including setting up a mattress runway in the hallway to practice front flips and get her heart rate up.

“It’s like, yeah, I’m stuck in here, but I also got to make a mattress runway and a cornhole course in the shower, and you know, slingshots and stuff like that,” Hayes said. 

If I didn’t have my slinky or Yerba Mate I would’ve been super bummed.

Riley Hayes, junior communication and outdoor education and leadership double major

Hayes offered advice for anyone who plans to get tested for COVID-19, telling students to bring some belongings “just in case.” 

“If anyone’s going to get tested I think that they should bring some kind of toy or food or something that they like just in case they test positive,” Hayes said. “Because if I didn’t have my slinky or Yerba Mate I would’ve been super bummed.”

If students do test positive, Hayes said she recommends looking to the bright side as much as possible. 

“You’ve just got to kind of make the most of it,” she said. “Just really accept that it’s gonna be a unique experience.”

While the experience has been mostly positive, Hayes said, there were downsides to the isolation period. 

“The food is the worst part, I’m gonna be honest,” she said. 

Food is delivered to students in isolation from the Shaw Student Center. Students order their meals online ahead of mealtimes, choosing from limited options. 

The sentiment was echoed by Sophie Kililea, a junior communication student who also identified herself to The Forum as one of the students quarantining for 14 days. Kililea was instructed to quarantine — which is different from isolation — after being exposed to the coronavirus. 

“I’d recommend bringing a ton of food stuff,” Kililea said. 

Dean of Students Daniel K. Cairo contacted and informed Kililea Aug. 20 that she came into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

“Pack your safety bag and Jess will be over in an hour to pick you up,” Kililea recalled Cairo saying on the phone. 

Jess Sweitzer, director of residence life, picked up Kililea from her apartment in Westminster on the Draw, according to Kiliea. She said she was given time to collect all her necessary belongings before moving to a specified quarantine room in the Draw. 

Izzy Neves, one of Kililea’s roommates, reported she was also required to quarantine. She offered advice to other students who may eventually be given the same message.

“It’s helpful to maintain a schedule and keep on top of your homework so you can be as productive as possible,” Neves said.

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Kate McMaster
Kate McMaster is a junior majoring in communication and minoring in film studies at Westminster College. She is especially interested in visual communication and graphic design. Off campus she enjoys playing guitar, painting, hiking and movies.

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